Doctordick Posted May 29, 2007 Report Share Posted May 29, 2007 This is a thread started to discuss a serious problem deeply embedded in the whole fabric of philosophical thought. idsoftwaresteve has referred this problem through the metaphor of a map of reality from which we can direct our thoughts and I suggested that the real problem is coming up with a method of drawing such a map when we don't know what we are talking about. "what options do we have when it comes to drawing such a map?"That is exactly the first question to be asked. The only answer is, we know something and we need a way of keeping track of it which does not depend on knowing what it is that we know. Does that sound confusing enough? The existence of that problem has essentially been recognized by philosophers for centuries. It is actually the reason for the philosophical division between epistemology (the study of knowledge and justified belief; essentially the basis of science) and ontology (the study of existence itself; exactly what are those “knowable” things). All fields of science possess their own “ontology”, the fundamental things which are presumed to exist and upon which that science is built. Most all ontology is invented (a great majority arising through a phenomena I have called “squirrel” thought, essentially animal intuition who's validity is uncertifiable) as the basis of a specific epistemological structure which explains the scientific phenomena of interest. Most scientists take the success of that very scientific explanation as proof of the validity of the presumed ontology; from a philosophical perspective this is a clearly unjustifiable presumption. In many respects, the whole thing is a chicken vs egg thing. You cannot define the ontology until you posses and understand the epistemology (the epistemology would be the scientific explanation) while, at the same time, you cannot generate an epistemology without an ontology to work with. This problem is particularly crucial if the epistemology consists of your world view and the ontology consists of what you know sincd that brings the chicken vs egg thing to a critical circumstance. You have utterly nothing to start with; no chicken and no egg.That presumes I have an understanding of the process of drawing it. And if I do, wouldn't that mean that I was dealing with part of the map?:cheer:Yes, indeedy do. The issue isn't that we must be working with nothing here but is rather the exact validity of the tools we use and all the steps we perform to draw that map. After all, English is itself a tool and we could not communicate if we were barred from using a language. What is disallowed is any step in drawing that map which cannot be proved valid. As an opener, I will be using both logic and mathematics. I define logic to be a collection of steps (a procedure) which can be certified and agreed upon as valid and mathematics as any internally self consistent set of such procedures (in the spirit of Feynman's, “mathematics is the distilled essence of logic!”) I take mathematics to be a well defined and certified collection of operations which detail exact steps which will yield identical results no matter who performs them. Since the central issue of mathematical systems is that they be well defined and internally self consistent and many brilliant minds have worked diligently over thousands of years to assure their logical validity, I will take them as “rational”. That is to say, I am aware of no mathematical construct which “generates emotional doubts as to its validity”: i.e. mathematics is a "rational" structure. As an aside, mathematics is a very effective example of the human mind's inability to make good use of logic. No mathematical proof can prove anything which is not embedded in the axioms behind that proof: i.e., whatever is proved is in fact, a direct logical consequence of the definitions asserted in the axioms behind the mathematics. Yet there are a great many proofs which no one would call obvious. If the mind did indeed have the ability to trace out all of the logical consequences of those axioms, all proofs would be obvious. It is quite clear that the human mind is limited to perhaps two or three conscious logical steps at its best. But, back to our problem.Ok, so that understanding is necessarily limited. Like a dim outline.Limited yes, like a dim outline, no! That is exactly what I don't want and exactly why I altered “facts” to “ideas which raise no emotional doubts”. (If these ideas raise doubts later, the issue can be handled later; for the moment, they will be treated as one would logically treat “facts”.) The whole issue here is to avoid wasting time in mock battles and, instead, go directly to the logical deductions which can be developed from these “rational” assertions. This is done with the full confidence that the results are as fully dependable as are their original “rational” foundations. The object is to avoid being vague in the interest of being exact. We can then use extended formal logic to deduce the consequences of these fundamental “rational” assertions, ignoring the “beliefs” which would otherwise impede our progress.What are other options?The first step is to understand that any explanation of reality amounts to an internally consistent epistemological construct based on a finite collection of ontological elements. The question is what can we say about these epistemological constructs without knowing anything about the ontological elements. There are two “rational” statements I believe I can make without knowing anything about either the epistemological construct or the ontological elements. These are issues any “map” of the circumstance must be able to represent. First, whatever the ontological elements underlying this epistemological construct are, there exists a possibility that additional ontological elements may arise later which were unavailable when the the epistemological construct was conceived. Second, there must exist a way to represent differences between the underlying ontological elements. I think these two assertions are sufficient to terminate this post as I would like to have the rationality of them certified before solving the problems they introduce. What I want is acceptance of the idea that any representation of the ontological elements underlying any epistemological construct must satisfy these two issues which have absolutely nothing to do with what the ontology is or the nature of the epistemological construct built upon that ontology. Looking to see a response -- Dick Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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